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Ronald MacDonald Named to Virginia Communications Hall of Fame

Ronald MacDonald
Ronald MacDonald
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The late Ronald MacDonald, former professor of journalism at Washington and Lee University, will be inducted into the Virginia Communications Hall of Fame in April.

MacDonald, who died in 2008 at the age of 75, was one of five members of the 2009 class of inductees announced this week. The other inductees are Hazel Trice Edney, editor-in-chief of the National Newspaper Publishers Association News Service; Craig Merritt, a lawyer who has worked with a number of media companies and organizations; Joel Rubin, CEO of Rubin Communications Group and former host of the roundtable show, “On the Record;” and Steven Soldinger, who has managed a number of radio and television stations in Virginia and elsewhere.

The induction ceremony, hosted by the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Mass Communications, will be held on April 2 at the Jefferson Hotel in Richmond. Professionals with exceptional careers in journalism, public relations, advertising and other media fields are eligible for selection to the Virginia Communications Hall of Fame. Possible inductees must have significant ties to Virginia. The newest class of inductees increases the Hall’s membership to 112.

“This year’s class of inductees has shown an admirable dedication to public service,” said Judy VanSlyke Turk, chair of the Virginia Communications Hall of Fame Selection Committee and director of the VCU School of Mass Communications. "They have contributed not only to the advancement of communications in their respective fields but to the improvement of their communities.”

MacDonald joined the journalism department at Washington and Lee in 1969 and taught until his retirement in 2001. He had a major impact on journalism education at W&L, expanding news coverage at WLUR-FM, the radio station operated by the Journalism Department, and introducing a television news curriculum and regular television broadcasts to the campus. For many years, he also coordinated the department’s internship program, supervising more than 700 interns. He authored “A Broadcast Manual of Style,” which has been used in local TV newsrooms nationwide. MacDonald’s students advanced to careers in the news divisions of ABC, CBS, NBC and CNN, among many other outlets.

In 1974, with Professor Emeritus Lou Hodges, MacDonald created a course in journalism ethics. It was the beginning of what became a significant focus of journalism education programs across the nation. In 1997, MacDonald’s and Hodges’ efforts were rewarded when the university was endowed with the Knight Chair in Journalism Ethics by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

Before teaching, MacDonald worked in a variety of roles in television and radio news for 18 years, including 13 years at WDBJ in Roanoke, where he led the station to three Douglas Southall Freeman Awards for public service and five Best News Operation of the Year citations from the Virginia Associated Press Broadcasters.